Musou Missives Special: Goemon Ishikawa

Welcome back to Musou Missives: Goemonth edition. Here I talk about Warriors franchise games, such as today’s topic Orochi 3, and analyze the characters abilities and movesets in the game and how to build a proper team around them.

Today’s topic is Goemon Ishikawa!

A legendary thief of the feudal Japan era, around the late 1500’s. While historical accounts are scarce, what is known was that he was a thief that committed a crime, possibly an assassination attempt, that warranted a public death of being boiled alive. Many tales were then woven after the fact of who and why and how this all came about.


While we’ll be looking at Konami’s Goemon most of this month, he also appears in the Samurai Warriors series as well. Oddly enough the characterization is not dissimilar. His look, for starters, is very reminiscent of older Ganbare Goemon titles on the original Famicom. With the big hair, round face, and rosey cheeks, he’s a pretty similar representation. Much like his platforming compatriot, Goemon carries a pipe, though sometimes more of a mace, that can transform with a chain connecting the shaft and tip. This Goemon, however, prefers to fire a giant cannon from his back in a pinch rather than throw his well earned cash at opponents. In terms of personality, he’s still very comical, but not as upstanding as the later Konami games made him out to be. Goemon in this game is greedy and that’s about the extent of his character motives.

Unlike characters we’ve covered before, Goemon is not initially available, and must be unlocked.  Much like the vast majority of the cast though, he is unlocked after reaching a certain part of the story — particularly after the Battle of Kyushuu stage in Chapter 2.  After completing the stage, he will be available for use.

So, then, how does the legendary mystical ninja of Edo play?


Unfortunately not very well, Goemon suffers in a number of respects, not the least being his basic moveset. Hailing from the Samurai Warriors series, Goemon features a combo structure similar to other Samurai Warriors characters, such as Hanbei Takenaka. This means that he does not have standard normal/charge attack structure like the Dynasty Warriors, but instead has charge attacks that branch out into their own set of combos. Like before, I’ll be referencing these via the point that charge attacks start in the combo (hitting charge attack being charge1, normal and a charge attack a charge 2, etc.).

Being a Samurai Warrior, Goemon does not have any charge attacks beyond charge 4, so he cannot charge the fifth or sixth attack of his normal combo. His normal attack combo, thankfully, isn’t a terrible option. Goemon essentially walks forward swinging his mace from one side to the other. He doesn’t cover his back very well, and it doesn’t have a great amount of range, but I find it’s really his ‘go-to’ combo most of the time, as it’s his fastest and safest combo to perform; things get dicey from this point on.

His combo starting with charge attack (charge1) has Goemon fire the cannon on his back multiple times. This causes three fireballs to fall in the distance, dealing damage to anyone at that distance or right up on Goemon.  This can be extended for a total of three attacks. Although the distance that the attack hits makes it difficult to use as a long range attack, it can be used to get enemies out of his grill if they’re close enough. However, it does have a fair amount of wind down, so it will not allow him to keep them off very easily or for very long.

His charge 2 and charge 4 combos are the ones that seem the most effective. His charge 2 combo knocks an opponent (usually only one opponent) upward, then pressing charge attack again has him extend his mace while spinning in place — juggling his victim and hitting enemies around him. His charge 4 is similar, but he spins around while moving forward, and doesn’t set up a juggle before this. Both of these would seem like his best combos, since they hit enemies around him, and give him better range with the chain on the mace extended. The problem is both of these have long start up and wind down periods. This means that Goemon is vulnerable to attack both before and after the charge part of the combo for extensive periods of time. Thusly, I’ve found trying to perform these attacks while Goemon is already surrounded incredibly difficult.

His charge 3 is a little different, though it’s usefulness is just as limited.  It starts with a slam with his mace, then goes into a pose that causes a shockware, and then finishes with a blast from the cannon on his back.  The mace attack is far faster than the start up of most of his other charge moves, but the time between it and the next attack is too long, and he’ll tend to get hit from behind trying to perform it.  The overall combo though hits a large area in front of him, so it can be used on encroaching enemy units.

Mirroring his ground attacks, his normal attack while airborne is far more effective than his charge attack as well. His normal attack has Goemon do an effective butt-slam, that has him bounce back up very quickly, which leaves little time to interrupt. He can also perform multiple slams afterward, up to three total, with continued button presses.  You can also switch-cancel out of this attack, making it a way to get Goemon out of a bad situation.  His charge aerial attack has him slam down with his mace, but takes some recovery time to return to a neutral position. Both of these, however, are far more effective than most of his charge combos.

Another saving grace is that all of his combos can be switch-cancelled… if you’re good at timing it. I should probably clarify at this point the difference between a regular swap or switch, and a switch-cancel. Pulling one of the trigger buttons at any time will switch to whichever teammate is displayed to the left or right of your character portrait. This also rotates the portraits around — thusly, pulling the same trigger 3 times cycles through your entire team. A switch-cancel is when the trigger is pulled in time with a combo, resulting in the incoming character to come in with their dash attack, not just standing in a neutral position. This is crucial for continuing long extensive combos in this game.

Unfortunately with Goemon, both his charge 2 and charge 4 combos require very precise timing to get an effective switch-cancel while Goemon is spinning. Most of the time, when I try to switch-cancel in this situation, I still end up with a regular swap, making me restart the combo.

Ironically, however, Goemon has one of the better incoming attacks when switch-canceling from another character to him, as his dash hits in a large area in front of him, allowing him to follow-up with a combo of his choosing — provided your not swarmed.

Musou and Special Attack

So, one might expect that since his regular moveset is very limited, his musou attacks would make up for this. Not really.

Because Goemon is from Samurai warriors, Goemon goes into a musou mode when the musou button is pressed, which will drain the entire bar over time; meanwhile, holding the musou button will perform his unique musou attack. Goemon’s musou attack has him fire the cannon from his back straight ahead of him several times, each time spitting out five fireballs that spread out as they get further. This makes it a little more useful at a fair range, but the spread is too far at really long ranges to be effective. Because it only hits in a cone in front of him, this isn’t terribly useful in situations where Goemon is surrounded, but can be moderately effective against oncoming enemies or officers.

His special attack has him dance to one side, bending just enough to fire the cannon at opponents before dancing to the other side to do the same. This does not fire directly in front of him, does not hit behind him, and only barely covers his sides. It is more difficult to interrupt than some of his other moves, but only just.

Officer Ability

Goemon’s officer ability is Bounty. It’s an ability that increases the amount of gems that drop during the game. Gems are currency used to purchase weapons at the item shop. This is useful as a leveling tool but not as useful once you start getting to the endgame. So, unfortunately, no good news here either.

Character Class

So then, if Goemon were a Power character, he wouldn’t have to worry about being interrupted during his combos, which would make him actually a pretty awesome character. Alas, he is not.

If Goemon were a Speed character, you could jump cancel his moves to avoid being surrounded, a point in which he is at an extreme disadvantage. Of course, Goemon isn’t a speed character.

If Goemon were a Wonder character he could use the Wonder ability to prevent enemies from blocking and just stick to his normal combo. Of course, Goemon isn’t a Wonder character.

Goemon is a Technique character, which allows him to get better damage off of juggling opponents, a skill which only his charge 2 is somewhat effective at doing. This makes Goemon one of the few Technique characters, that actually needs another technique character to setup the juggle for him. This does give him the ability to siide-step while in block as well, though.  So, if nothing else he has some more options when on the defense.

Team and Weapon Fusion Recommendations

At this point we have to stop, because I have said almost nothing positive about this character. There seems to be nothing that Goemon offers that would be of benefit to a player at higher levels, and seems like he would be only be helpful as a bench warmer the rest of the time. Goemon seems to be the counter-example to my “there are no bad teams” statement earlier.  How can anyone possibly build a team around him?

I’ve determined there are three primary strategies to get Goemon to work on a team.  Most effective Goemon teams will keep 2 or more of them in mind.

Strategy 1:

Option 1 is to focus on his most effective combos: his normal combo, and charge three combo. This involves using teammates with Vigor or Fellowship with decent switch-cancel options and possible juggle setups. The goal for this build is to utilize one of Goemon’s combos as an extension into his teammate’s combos.  In other words, starting a combo, switch-canceling into Goemon’s combo, then switch-cancel out of Goemon into the next character to finish the combo up.  For the least amount of use of Goemon, it requires much more familiarity with your team’s movesets.

Weapon Fusion abilities for this option are not really important, save for Agility, which Goemon desperately needs. Brawn will improve his normals more, and Might for his Charge attacks.  Flak will also increase damage if Goemon is hitting juggled enemies.  Elemental effects will likely not come into play if using him in this manner.


Jiang Wei and Yoshisune Miamoto — Oddly enough, this is a team that really does benefit from a combo extender like Goemon.  Jiang Wei uses Fellowship to increase the damage from switch cancel combos, while Yoshisune increases combo damage in general, so they are a good one-two punch.  However, Jiang Wei’s combos do not set Yoshisune up very well, and typically Yohisune will whiff (or miss the attack) on incoming.  Having Goemon come in with his normal combo or the start of his charge 3 combo actually helps get Yoshisune into a position he can start up a combo after a switch-cancel.  What’s more, Yoshisune can end a combo with his special attack to extend his blade to give him more range in a pinch.  Jiang Wei’s charge 3 into EX attack, charge 6 combo, and special attack also serve as powerful combo enders as well.

Zhang Liao, and Nagamasa Azai — This team doubles up on Fellowship for maximum switch combo effectiveness.  Both Zhang Liao and Nagamasa Azai have very easy setups to jump into each other, but adding a quick Goemon combo helps extend it.  They also provide a much larger range than Goemon does, allowing them to pick up a larger number of enemies before swapping to Goemon.  Activate Zhang Liao’s EX attack to speed up his attacks to create much more effective and longer combos.

Strategy 2:

Option 2 is using Goemon defensively, as a character of last resort. Even though his movement speed is terrible, he can still use the side-step technique ability to stay on the defensive while moving about. His jump attacks are also still helpful in knocking enemies down, and his normal combo will help him get away. Since the focus is to only have Goemon out for defensive use, teaming him with two characters with Recovery, or one with Recovery and the other with Regeneration are crucial to reducing the amount of time Goemon has to stay on the field.

When building his weapon for this strategy, Goemon will need Might and Brawn to stay effective, as well as Agility.  Having Lightning or Ice will allow him to stun or freeze enemies in his charge attacks, slowing them down.  Absorption will help keep Goemon alive while his teammates are recovering.


Aya, and Pang Tong — Also known as team mystical ninja, Aya and Pang Tong both have powerful close range attacks that are easy to switch-cancel in Goemon, or their other partner for extensions.  All three also have superb aerial attacks that can be abused in oncoming and escape scenarios also.  Pang Tong and Aya, on the whole are weaker on defense, so switching to Goemon will be necessary on occasion.  Doubling up on Recovery means, Goemon will thankfully be left out for a much shorter time than other combinations though.

Zhuge Dan, and Lu Xun — A similar setup to the other team, but a little more hearty.  Zhuge Dan’s EX does an area-of-effect attack that can help setup a Goemon switch-cancel, as does Lu Xun.  Both also have very good switch-cancels from Goemon’s attacks as well.  Overall, this team is a bit more versatile, and will only need Goemon for rare occasions.

Strategy 3:

Option 3 is using Goemon as an officer killer. That seems counter-intuitive, but I’ll explain. Goemon does not do very well against hordes of enemies, but with his side-step ability, he can wait for an opening and then use one of his combos on the officer.  His charge 3 is especially effective, provided the action remains in front of him. This does mean that Goemon will be sidelined most of the time, but will have a wider array of options once the situation is in his favor.

This option requires special attention to his weapon abilities, since Goemon has a particular goal in mind.  Agility and Reach are crucial, as are Slay and Courage for the increased damage to Officers.  Brawn and Might are helpful again as well, so those need to be considered also.  Flak may be helpful, but depends on playstyle. Cavalier will help occasionally, as Goemon does reasonably well on a horse.  Chances are most players will get more mileage out of Lighting, Air, and Ice combinations to help open up blocking enemies and keep combos going.


Hanzo Hattori, and Musashi Miyamoto—  The combination of Efficacy and Vigor makes every member of this team good at officer killing to some degree, though Goemon is better focused on it.  Hanzo’s charge 4, once performed successfully, will summon clones to help him clear out other enemies on the field.  Meanwhile, Musashi covers much more ground and area around him, and sets up Goemon to charge in and cleanup.  Musashi also has a long dash attack that deals multiple hits, making it extremely effective to switch-cancel into him.  You can also switch-cancel out of this Musashi’s dash to set up another character incoming.

Sanzang, and Benkei— This team thrives on mobility.  While Sanzang’s Impulse ability doesn’t help her or Benkei very much, it improves Goemon’s run speed significantly.  Benkei’s Technique ability increases the teams stats overall, making them all far more effective as well.  Sanzang’s jumping charge attack and Benkei’s charge 3 combo push both of them out of hotspots and into a better position for them or Goemon to startup combos again.

In conclusion, Goemon Ishikawa is a very deceptive character.  While his uses are still very limited compared to most of the cast, he becomes incredibly useful when given a purpose on a team.  Finding a good team for him was far more trying than any character I’ve covered so far, but the feeling when discovering new effective teams has been a great reward.

Look out for new Musou Missives in the future, and be sure to vote in our poll for the next official entry to the series starting back up this Fall.

Enjoy as we continue to celebrate Goemonth!

Referenced for unlocking Goemon:

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